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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Last year's fatal election in Taiwan

Yes, it is fatal to Taiwan because after that election, crisis has appearred one after another. It takes Taiwan a few years back in terms of democracy achieved and with the Ma's administration currently planning to sign the ECFA even though the DPP's survey has shown that 80 percent of the people in Taiwan opposed to signing an ECFA under a “one China” framework.

Are Taiwan's elections fair?

“It seems to me that one of the parties in Taiwan has a huge advantage because of its huge wealth. The source of that wealth should be properly investigated.” said Graham Watson, MEP (Member , European Parliament) in his closing remarks on the interview conducted just before Taiwan’s presidential election in March, 2008.

The full-text of the interview is here:

Interview with Graham Watson, MEP
Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament

(This interview is recorded and summarized by the Taiwanese Student Association at the Université catholique de Louvain.)

Q1: Due to China's alleged claim that it represents Taiwan, 23 million Taiwanese people have been deprived of many benefits derived from joining international organizations. For example, the Taiwanese government is not allowed to directly coordinate with the World Health Organization in controlling epidemics (e.g. SARS). What is Your Honor's stance on whether Taiwan should be allowed to share the privileges and burdens of these international organizations? What are Your Honor's opinions on China's unilateral alleged claim of representation over Taiwan and how does it affect Taiwanese people's welfare?

A1: We have to find a way of integrating Taiwan into the global community. Personally, I believe in the right of the “self-determination of all nations”, and I believe that 23 million Taiwanese people have the right to self-determination that is not possible to fulfill at the moment. People are working hard to integrate Taiwan as far as possible into the structures of the World Health Organization and the United Nations. There are certainly ways of integration. There are ways of associating Taiwan as we have done, for example, with the World Trade Organization. There are ways to give sufficient recognition to Taiwan and to give it a role so as to allow it in providing experiences and so on to the work of these bodies. There is a global interest in involving Taiwan and its people in global governance, especially since Taiwan is one of the largest trading economies and has a lot to contribute.
If China wants to test whether it represents Taiwanese people, it should allow a referendum to be held in Taiwan so that Taiwanese people can determine whether China represents Taiwan. I find it inconceivable that an authoritarian dictatorship, the People's Republic of China, can represent 23 million Taiwanese people who live in democracy and freedom. While it is true that many Taiwanese can trace their roots back to the [territory of] People's Republic of China, it is also true that there are also many Taiwanese who are not ethnically Chinese. There is no way that China can be set to represent Taiwan unless Taiwanese people choose and agree with it.

Q2: A referendum is a democratic procedure practiced by numerous countries (including many in the E.U.) in order for citizens to directly express their opinions on public policies. China has openly opposed Taiwan's referendum regarding our U.N. membership application and demanded other countries, such as the United States, the European Union and several European countries, to follow suit. How does Your Honor perceive China's actions?

A2: The People's Republic of China has the right to use diplomacy to do this, but I do not think they will be successful. I am sure that countries that are democracies will recognize Taiwan's right, as another democracy, to make its own decisions. I will look at the statements issued by those countries as “reflection of concerns” about possible implications of Taiwan's referendums. However, I think that the Taiwanese people should go ahead. Taiwan is a mature democracy and Taiwanese people are capable of making your own decisions.

Q3: What does Your Honor suggest the Taiwanese government/people do to better secure their democratic rights?

A3: The best thing that Taiwan can do is to continue its very impressive process of democratization and reform, as what we have seen in Taiwan over the past 20 years. In particularly, it should work hard on reforms of judiciary and to rule corruptions out of public life. It is helpful to have a limit to the number of television and radio stations that any one political party can own and to donations to political parties.
It seems to me that one of the parties in Taiwan has a huge advantage because of its huge wealth. The source of that wealth should be properly investigated.


However, for whatever reason this last remark was not mentioned by Taiwan’s CNA (Central News Agency) on its news,,200803260253,200803250103,200803240081,200803240067,200803220441,200803220431,200803220410,200803220350,200803220347,200803220325,200803220282,200803220097,200803220051,200803220026,200803210384,200803210371,200803210271,200803210175,200803210129,200803200325,200803200282,200803200268,200803200142,200803200042,200803200030,200803200020,200803200002,200803190359,200803190310,200803190223,200803190114,200803190105,200803180471,200803180388,200803180273,200803180261,200803180157,200803180147,200803170328,200803170278,200803170033,200803150205,200803150188,200803150176,200803140423,200803140349,200803140111,200803140091,200803130506&no=0463
(sorry for the messy look but the system didn't allow such a long code to be hyperlinked from the word "news")
The US State Dept. reports that Taiwan’s elections are free and fair.

But how can it be fair when the wealth of the KMT party (illegally obtained from the people during its one-party rule of the Martial Law era) is so huge compared to the other parties? The KMT has much advantage on buying advertisement space on media, and on spending its resources on different forms of vote-buying.

KMT's vote-buying is especially rampant when the electoral district is smaller and when the election is for local positions such as county or township representatives.

The letter from a former foreigner resident in Taiwan has quite different view from that of the US State official :
“Notable omissions from articles include alleged votebuying on the part of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). While the majority of people in Taiwan are aware of these allegations, many US newspapers ignore this.” read the entire letter.

KMT’s vote-buying tactics in elections is also described in this video clip from the 4:00 to 8:00 minutes location of the documentary.

One may argue that because the DPP lost the last presidential election, that’s why I labelled the election unfair. As a matter of fact, the elections were never fair, and can never be fair until the KMT’s wealth is returned to the taxpayers.

Other than the problem of party wealth difference, an expert study is needed on how to properly divide the electoral districts so each vote will carry the same weight.

Further, the abnormal political situation in Taiwan allows a registered party in China (the KMT, i.e. the Chinese Nationalist Party, is originally registered in China not Taiwan, and it hasn't changed its party name to associate it with Taiwan) to participate in the Taiwanese elections. How can a party of another country (China) participate in the elections of a neighboring country (Taiwan)? Have you ever heard of an election in US with a Canadian party participating in it?

DPP's Chen Shui-Bian was simply lucky to win the year 2000 presidential election in a 3-way split competition that gave him a slight advantage over the other two pan-blue candidates. He fought for the 2004 election with great difficulties, if the candidates were competing fairly, Chen should have won it more easily instead of the rasor-thin margin. Without any election reform, it will be very difficult (but not totally impossible) for the other parties to compete with the KMT on the presidential election, and impossible for the other parties' candidates to win the total numbers of seats over the KMT's on the legislative representatives.

The return of the KMT party’s wealth to the taxpayers and other election reform measures must be implemented before Taiwan can truly achieve fair election results.

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